Malene Oddershede Bach started her namesake fashion label in 2011 specialising in high-end womenswear clothing which is sold worldwide. Their main stockists are Fenwick department store and Nordstrom.
Malene’s collection appears in showrooms during New York and Paris Fashion Week every year and have their first on-schedule fashion show during London Fashion Week this season. ‘Hopefully the show we’re doing in London is going to be a success and a big step for the brand,’ says Malene.
Malene is originally from Denmark. ‘I was brought up on a farm in a small town with very few clothes shops. Whenever something nice came in everybody seemed to have it – the same top just in two different colours. My nan ran charity shops so I ended up going to a lot of them, and went shopping in other towns, in order to get something different to everyone else.’
She studied A Level maths at school and when she finished her studies she ‘ran away to London’ to work out what she wanted to do. One of her friends suggested she style his band and she gave it a go. ‘I decided I really wanted to focus on fashion design and ended up studying it at Middlesex University.’
Whilst studying her many jobs included costume design for the BBC and assisting designers. ‘When I graduated I got a job but realised I wasn’t able to work on my own stuff any more. You often have to sign your rights over to people you work for.’ She started her brand after winning Ones To Watch, which gave her the opportunity to share a catwalk with three other designers at London Fashion Week. ‘That launched it a bit quicker than I anticipated.’
Malene has lived and worked in Tottenham for over ten years. She started on Fountayne Road in a shared studio, later moving into her own space. Four years ago she moved into her current studio on Bernard Road. She also manages multi-purpose photography studio The Cove on Markfield Road and runs PJR Creative with her partner Paul managing 90,000 sq ft of studio space in Tottenham.
Malene designs the line and her small team cut the pieces out in her studio which are then sent to a factory in Forest Gate to be constructed. It’s important to Malene that her garments are made in London. ‘It’s all about quality.’
Malene says that she wears most of her collection on a daily basis. ‘If I don’t wear it, why would anyone else want to buy it?’
Their luxury fabrics are made in Italy and Malene is known for her feminine floral designs with a tomboy edge.
She doesn’t plan her designs. ‘As soon as you get started your creative bubble bursts and all of a sudden it starts making sense. They lecture people to do research, research, research but I think in the real world it all develops as you go along.’
‘The stories start with the fabrics and then everything gets created around these stories, it’s all Jacquards (textured fabrics) and textiles.’
‘At the end of the day a shirt is a shirt, it’s not redesigning the shirt because we have all these serious fabrics – it’s recreating it using them. You don’t want to start going too crazy when you’ve got loads of textures and patterns going on because they start getting a bit messy to look at.’
Although numerous celebrities have worn Malene’s dresses (including the cast of Game of Thrones!) she feels it’s important to see real women wear the clothes. ‘It’s all about how they’re wearing it, it’s not necessarily who they are.’
Her latest collection for Spring/Summer 19 is based around the Icelandic poppy. ‘They’re beautiful the way they spring out. They look a bit like aliens in a way. Not very pretty and quite hairy but then they grow to become this beautiful flower. A lot of the concept was inspired by Annihilation, the Netflix film, and the whole idea that nature is slowly absorbing, taking over control, morphing into and taking everything.’
This article first appeared in the Fashion & Beauty issue of Discovering Tottenham which was released in September 2018.